Eight years have elapsed since miscreants from majority community launched a sudden and furious attack on localities inhabited by Buddhists besides vandalising 12 temples in Ramu area, justice still eludes the hapless Buddhist people of this part of Cox’s Bazar.
Since the attacks took place, the Buddhist community in Ramu sub-division near the border with Myanmar, lived in constant fear for many years. Though there is a semblance of peace but they are still at a loss to understand why their own Muslim neighbours with whom they were living in harmony for centuries – suddenly turned hostile towards them.
They now question the judicial system in Bangladesh that has failed to offer them justice.
“Still we’re waiting for justice as there is no progress in terms of meeting out punishment to the attackers,” Says Subhash Barua.
Buddhist community leaders and locals said most of the culprits were out of reach from law due to their connection with the influential politicians in the country.
The memory of violent attacks occurred on September 29 and 30, 2012 are still fresh in Barua’s mind.
“We were taken by surprise by a series of attacks on our monasteries, shrines, and houses by local mobs on the midnight past. Several hundred Muslims ran riot through the village. They set fire to houses and temples leaving us shattered,” he says.
The mayhem unleashed by miscreants left at least 12 monasteries and 30 households in Ramu torched.
Not only that, seven monasteries and 11 houses in Ukhiya and Teknaf were also damaged during the attack.
At least six other monasteries and hundreds of households were attacked by the mob, who unleashed unprecedented fury.
Local media said the vandalism in the locality followed after a rumour that an image had been found tagged with the Facebook account of local Uttam Barua, insulting the Prophet and the Quran.
Charge-sheets were submitted against 945 people though 15,182 people were accused in 19 cases for the attack in Ramu, Ukhiya and Teknaf.
As many as 486 were accused in charge-sheet in connection with the Ramu crime.
Cox’s Bazar Boudhho Shurokkha Parishad (Buddhist Protection Council) then protested against the incident.
The members of the organisation expressed dismay over the fact that the culprits are still freely leading their lives even after their names appeared in the government probe.
Cox’s Bazar Session Judge’s Court Public Prosecutor Momtaz Uddin Ahmed admitted that there is delay in procedures as the local Buddhist communities are not providing testimony.
Some locals say some Buddhist leaders were intimidated by those criminals time and again.
“What can we do? Most of those criminals who are responsible for attacks enjoy political patronage. For us, there is no difference between BNP or Awami League as both parties give shelter to goons who carry out attacks on minorities. The first part of Sheikh Hasina’s regime was better but the situation has turned for worse over the past few years. Buddhist girls and women are being regularly raped by Muslim settlers in Chittagong. There is a systematic persecution against our Hindu brothers and sisters in the country which we call motherland. Tell me, where can we go?” says a local.